KUALA LUMPUR – Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar was another Facebook recruit of regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
The son of a retired policeman is a classic example of one who became self-radicalised through the social media and killed in a failed terror mission.
His intended target remains a mystery but Philippine police said the explosives could have gone off in a shopping mall, hotel or a church as pre-Christmas Simbang Gambi (dawn masses) were about to begin.
There is also speculation that it could have been Mohd Noor Fikrie’s initiation rite as a JI flighter to rise up its ranks.
Despite being a relative newcomer, he was already in close contact with top JI leader and fellow Malaysian Zulkifli Abdul Hir, also known as Marwan.
(Marwan is believed to have escaped a Philippine security forces offensive on Feb 2, which killed Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumdail Gumbahali, also known as Dr Abu.)
Kedah-born Mohd Noor Fikrie, 26, was in touch with Marwan and the Abu Sayyaf via social media and used a Sabahan contact to travel between Sandakan and Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.
According to intelligence sources, Mohd Noor Fikrie was with Marwan and Abu Sayyaf terrorists during encounters with the Philippine military and police over the past few months.
“JI and Abu Sayyaf were operating together in the Sulu area but JI moved to Mindanao when the Philippine security forces, supported by technical help from US and Australia, put intense pressure on them,” said a source.
After one recent attack on their hideout, Mohd Noor Fikrie was among those who managed to escape unscathed.
“But in his haste, he left his Malaysian identity card behind,” the source added.
That was how Philippine intelligence units kept track of him until he resurfaced in Davao on Friday night with his burqa-clad Filipina wife, Annabelle Nieva Lee, and a backpack containing a bomb on his fatal mission.
Mohd Noor Fikrie finished secondary school and worked in several jobs in Malacca where his father was a sergeant at the police contingent headquarters’ training centre until he retired in 2002 and left for the family’s hometown of Benut in Pontian, Johor.
Mohd Noor Fikrie married a woman identified only as Nuzul and they lived in Kampung Bahagia, Klebang in Malacca until they divorced late last year.
He then left for Mindanao and married Lee, a Muslim convert from Sorsogon, a city regarded as the gateway to southern Philippines soon after his arrival.